By Joseph Dumbula.
The High Court in Malawi’s commercial Capital, Blantyre has found business mogul, Thom Mpinganjira guilty in an attempted judge bribery case that he has been facing for two years now.
He has also been remanded at Chichiri Prison pending his sentencing at a yet to be announced date.
Mpinganjira has been facing charges to do with enticing judges who heard the presidential petition case as a constitutional referral to alter their ruling in favour of former President Peter Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission.
His arrest followed complaints by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda that some unknown people had been attempting to bribe the judges.
The judges heard the elections case in which the UTM, headed by former Malawi vice President Saulos Chilima and the country’s oldest political party, the Malawi Congress Party led by Lazarus Chakwera petitioned the court for the nullification of the results citing the irregularities that marred the poll in which Peter Mutharika was declared winner.
This was after the Constitutional Court had nullified the elections but waited for the Supreme Court to review the ruling.
But on Friday, Judge Dorothy, DeGabrielle found Mpinganjira guilty, at a time when Mpinganjira’s admirers and sympathisers thronged the premise outside the court carrying placards that argued that the convict faced the charges because he is rich.
In her ruling, the judge said the court aligned itself to the evidence from phone call recordings and printed WhatsApp conversations that were shared between Mpinganjira and the judges he wanted to bribe.
DeGabrielle said that it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mpinganjira had “a parcel” which he wanted to give to the judges in a believed view for them to alter their ruling.
But in his mitigation factor, Tamanda Chokhotho, lawyer for Mpinganjira said his client does not need to be given a custodial sentence between he is an upright man and is supporting a lot of people through his foundation.
He had also said that Mpinganjira’s custodial sentence would imply that many people at FDH Bank would lose their jobs.
However, Reyneck Matemba, the country’s solicitor general who had started persecuting the case when he was the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau said the mitigations lacked merit.
He said if the convict was upright, he would not have indulged himself in the case saying he wanted to manipulate the justice system.
Matemba later quashed a mitigation factor that Mpinganjira’s situation would lead into job loss saying he had formally resigned from the bank and that its operations are running.
Later, Matemba said an argument that the convict is supporting a local team, Mighty Wanderers as President does not hold any water because he only took up the post two months ago.
There have so far been mixed reactions over the matter with the social media stuck on arguments that the case has exposed an attempted case of a state capture.